MARION, S.C. (WPDE) — As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect businesses across South Carolina, another business announced it will be closing its doors for good. The Beneteau Boat plant has been a staple in Marion for over 30 years.
Very sad to read. I used to pass by that plant traveling from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach. Will be a significant hit to the local economy. It seems boat sales are still strong despite Covid so I wonder if there is more to the story?
Anyone know more about which boats they built there? I didn't even know they had a facility in the US, and assumed they were all in Europe, and France specifically.
As for reasons, I think we will see most every business failure over the next year blamed on Covid. After all, why blame yourself when you can blame something else. And I expect a bunch of companies will take the opportunity to shut down marginal or failing activities now, simply because there is a good cover story.
BGM (Groupe-Beneteau Manufacturing) a French-based boat manufacturing company, opened Marion facility in 1986 for producing cruising sailboats for the North American market in size to about 250,000 square feet and has built more than 8,700 boats. Today, the facility is building both Beneteau and Jeanneau sailboats from 34 to 46 feet.
Groupe Beneteau announced the site, which produces Beneteau and Jeanneau sailboats, will close by the end of the year. The move impacts more than 170 employees.
Beneteau opened its doors in 1986 producing cruising sailboats for the North American market from 34 to 46 feet.
Groupe Beneteau Americas Chief Operating Officer Yannick Madiot said the market has been challenging the past 10 years and in decline. “The pandemic that we are going through right now has really affected in a very sizeable way our customers,” Madiot said. “As a result of that, we have to hibernate the plant for an unknown period of time.” He said the Marion plant operation will gradually shut down activity from Sept.16 through Nov. 30. “At that point in time, just the spares part service department will remain and Groupe Beneteau will retain ownership of the plant and facility for future use.”
Madiot said officials will evaluate the economic conditions in the aftermath of the pandemic to make a decision to reopen the plant, but they can’t make a commitment. Marion was the company’s lone American production facility, nearly doubling in size to about 250,000 square feet and has built more than 8,700 boats. “It is a grueling decision that was not made lightly,” he said. “Although difficult, this is a necessary step in transforming Groupe Beneteau for success in the post COVID-19 era.”
The plant stopped production for several weeks because of the coronavirus but reopened on May 4. The midterm outlook does not call for a sharp turnaround in customer demand in the U.S. market, Madiot said. “This leaves Groupe Beneteau with excess capacity for this line of product and the necessity to adapt its production capacity,” he said.
First pic; Workers at Beneteau USA in Marion pose in 2009 with the 7,000th hull produced at the plant.
I keep my Albin in Oconto, Wisconsin. For those of you "In the know", Oconto is the home of Cruiser Yachts. A well respected name.
For the last few years they had a banner on the side of their building "NOW HIRING, ALL SHIFTS"
Well the sign is gone but they are still making boats and testing them at my Marina (HiSeas)
The launchings are still pretty steady but I have noticed the boats are smaller. I think their max was nearly 60 feet, it barely fit in our well. Now I see them launching more smaller boats and some with double outboards.
We ordered a new Beneteau Awhile back that was built in France. The local dealer had mentioned the US plant and that it was doing well back then, apparently not any more. Their press release regarding the business drop off, including COVID related issues sounds legit to me. If I remember correctly they started buying some of the smaller power boat brands over the last 3 to 5 years and those were selling well, at least in the SoCal area the last time I spoke to them.
Not surprising as it was a single plant in which they built small sailboats and their only sailboat plant in the US. I think it's closure was part of a longer term plan but was definitely hastened by Covid 19.
While right now there is tremendous talk of Florida, Texas and California, there are many states as bad or worse in cases and deaths per million. South Carolina was doing relatively well until opened up, but now deaths per million are worse in SC than in either of those three states. Smaller southern states are flying somewhat under the radar but SC, GA, AL, MS, and LA all have very high rates of cases and deaths.
As a manufacturer in SC and with family owning hotels in Myrtle Beach, we've seen a rapid deterioration recently and a governor with blinders on. Fortunately some large manufacturers like Michelin and nearly every major school district is standing up to him.
This was a very large plant in terms of size of the facility at 255,000 square feet but only about 170 employees. Still about 2.3% of the local employment, so a significant loss.